Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review: Fat Angel Food & Libations, San Francisco

As a foreigner living in San Francisco this can mean a lot of international visitors due to the proximity of Silicon Valley. Fat Angel is the perfect place to take visitors and business colleagues for a catch up and a good drink.

The theme is high end gastropub in the Fillmore district off the back of Japantown. An intimate environment that is just perfect for small groups or couples on dates - being so close to the Fillmore Theatre this would be a great choice for a pre or post show drink. The venue isn't large though so we tend to go early, either after working from home or on a weekend afternoon. This ensures a choice of tables and no wait, but be aware if you do this the kitchen only opens at 5pm. 

The craft beer list is extensive, several pages including imported and local options, ciders and gluten free beers. Watch the specials board and try their rotation to get a good grasp of the menu. We're particularly fond of some of the unusual beers like sour cherry and dark chocolate porters. 

2007 La Rioja Alta ‘ViƱa Alberdi’  Rioja Tempranillo $12USD and 2013 Domaine de Sulauze ‘Pomponette’  Aix en Provence, France Pino/Syrah $10USD

For the wine drinkers there's an equally impressive selection by the bottle and by the glass. Lots of new world and European wines are available that pair perfectly with the small plate food. 

Pretzel $5USD

Fresh pretzels with a lye wash and not too much salt are great with cold beer, they're served warm with a rich and hearty seeded mustard.

The real winner here though are the sharing boards; all equally delicious with wine or beer and served with crisp sour dough toast points. The cheeses come with a number of side additions like pickles, sweet marmalade and nuts that pair perfectly with the sharp cheeses. Extra points for a number of non cow milk options for those of us with more sensitive palettes. The pickled candied walnuts that they sometimes serve on the cheeseboard is one of the best things in the venue and worht looking out for. The charcuterie includes a number of dried and fatty meat options and a liver parfait. 

Charcuterie selection $5.25 each, 3 for $15, or 6 for $28
  • Chorizo 
  • Duck Salami 
  • Genoa 
  • Pheasant Terrine 
  • Speck 
  • Soppressata 
Cheeseboard selections $5 each, 3 for $14, or 6 for $27
  • Vella Dry Jack hard cow 
  • Capricious hard goat 
  • Fleur de Marquis semi-soft sheep 
  • La Oveja Negra semi-hard sheep 
  • Petite Supreme soft cow 
  • Buttermilk Blue Afinee soft cow
Not shown here are also fancy butter selections ($4.75USD each) served with warm fresh bread. This is exactly what I crave when I'm eating carbs and they don't disappoint. Selections include Lemon caper sage, Garlic chili, Maple bacon, Philz coffee or Honey Butter. 

Tomato, spicy sausage and arugula with parmesan $12USD

The flatbreads are served on a very thin bread crust with plenty of toppings. The arugula gi''ves as peppery edge to this dish that cuts nicely through the sausage, combined with the thin crust this makes a lighter more refined option for those craving pizza.

Apple Bread Pudding $7.50USD

There are a number of sweet and after dinner dishes making this also a good stop for post theatre coffee and sweets. This apple bread pudding is rich and delicious served with fresh whipped cream.

French press coffee - enough for 3 cups $9USD 
10 Year Old Malmsey Madeira Blandy’s  Madeira, Portugal  $9USD

Sadly they lack an espresso machine but the French press can be bought for 1 or in a larger format to be shared like this. It's a good quality dark French roast enough to keep a coffee snob happy. There's also a very large range of aperitifs and after dinner drinks including this delicious Madeira which can be hard to find in the US. 

Fat Angel - Food & Libation

1740 O'Farrell St
San Francisco
CA 94115
(415) 525-3013

Intimate gastropub and post Theatre share plates

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Review: 4505 Burgers and BBQ, San Francisco

If there is one cuisine that Americans have perfected it is BBQ; often though excellent rubs and sticky sauces hide less than stellar meat. 4505 Meats has been selling Artisan meats in the Bay Area at farmer's markets and their butchery for years, now they're turning their fine meats into finer BBQ. 

4505 is as self service casual dining experience; you order at the window from a large board of choices and take a number to a table in the yard outside the restaurant. Drinks can be ordered at the bar inside the restaurant but roaming servers will collect plates and take orders for additional drinks. 

Smoked meats include brisket, pulled chicken, pork shoulder, pork rib racks and mild or spicy smoked sausage. 

You can order meat by the pound, on a sandwich or a set plate with sides. They offer standard sides included with the meal or Fixin's which are 'deluxe' sides that can be added to your meat platter for 75c or up from $4 each. All of the sides are plentiful and delicious and appeal to a wide set of tastes from fried Mac and Cheese  to Beans or Fries. Each platter also comes with fresh pickles and a 'posh' locally made Hawaiian style dinner roll.

This is definitely a venue for the food lover rather than the fine diner; picnic table dining, cutlery buckets and cold beer are the order of the day. They have a huge range of craft beers on tap as well as all natural soft drinks made from cane sugar. Perfect for a warm sunny California day in the sunshine. 

Chicharrones $4USD or as a Fixin' + 75c on a meal

The Chicharrones are definitely worth a mention - the ultimate moreish low carb snack of pork rinds that have been dried, deep fried and salted. As well as being rich sweet 4505 pork fat these are salted and seasoned to perfection with a light chili lime dusting. Perfect with a cold beer or on their own. 

Condiments - Free and communal

The condiment selection is a little limited but also not as necessary as you might think. They include a mustard/vinegar sauce, a Carolina style BBQ sauce, Ketchup and Louisiana Hot Sauce. I admit when I take this home I indulge in Kansas style sweet sauce; brisket and sticky sauce is my idea of heaven. 

2 Meat Platter with Chicken & Hot Link $16USD

The chicken is soft and juicy with a rich smokey flavour. Here the sides are Fries (included) and Frankaroni ( +75c Fixin' or $4.75USD on its own). Frankaroni is an indulgent Mac and Cheese mixed with cut Hot Dogs breaded and deep fried - a delicious heart attack.

2 Meat Platter with Brisket and Mild Link $16USD

Served with double Coleslaw. The smoked sausages are fantastic but I find the heat of the spicy link overpowers the brisket so I skipped my usual mouth burning affair. The brisket melts in your mouth with the right mix of fat through the meat; I could eat an entire side of this stuff and wish to high heaven they made burnt ends.

BBQ Sandwich $9.75USD

Most BBQ joints in the US will only serve Pork, premixed with sweet sauce. 4505 will let youchoose any of the smoked meats as well as a fried chicken strip option sure to please the kids. The meat is topped with coleslaw and served on a good quality brioche burger bun. The burger doesn't come with sides as standard - fries are an extra $4 but the burger is man sized and doesn't need them. 

4505 offer take home dinners which are shareable sizes with 2 classic sides or party packages if you're catering. They're open late for evening pick up - great if you're watching the game or just want to head home after work but still eat delicious.

To top all this off 4505 is walking distance from Comix Experience and Isotope Comics.  A walk in the sunshine to the comic book store followed by cold beers, great meats and new comics is about the perfect Sunday afternoon San Francisco activity. If you're less geek centric try the Farmer's Market next door on Divisadero open till 1pm on weekends.

4505 Burgers & BBQ

705 Divisadero St
San Francisco
CA 94117
(415) 231-6993

Slow smoked artisan meats served in a no frills environment